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Rathlin Island, County Antrim


Ir. Reachlainn [raghlin] meaning uncertain.


Off N Antrim coast, 6.5km N of Ballycastle

bar: Cary

A number of Irish islands are named Reachlainn (with variant Reachrainn) but the derivation of the name is obscure. Perhaps the most plausible suggestion to date is that it contains a Celtic root represented by W. rhygnu ‘to rub/scrape’, and that the name signifies something like ‘indented island/rugged island’. Along with the mainland parish of Ballintoy, Rathlin was annexed to the parish of BILLY in medieval times but it was reconstituted a parish in its own right in 1722. There was an early church on Rathlin, the location of which is uncertain [(ecclaise) Rechrainne 630].


McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 123/124

Additional Information

See also the parish of Rathlin Island

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

(?) Rechrann, eclesiam

0634Stokes, W. 1895,96,97 i 183

(?) Regaina

0690cRavenna Cosmog. 44b

Rechrea, in

0713cThes. Pal. ii 279 $19

(?) Rechrainne, espoc

0738Stokes, W. 1895,96,97 i 243

(?) Rechrainne, episcopis

0739AU (Mac Airt) 192

(?) Rechrainne, abbatis

0743AU (Mac Airt) 196

(?) Reclaindi, abbas

0747Stokes, W. 1895,96,97 i 250

(?) Rechrainne, prinnceps

0773AU (Mac Airt) 226

(?) Rechrainne, loscadh

0795AU (Mac Airt) 250

(?) Rechrainne, abbas

0799AU (Mac Airt) 254


713cThes. Pal. ii 273 $24

(?) Rechrainne, abbatis

7698?AU (Mac Airt) 222

(?) Rechraind, Colman mac Roe o

830cMart. Tal. June 16 p50

Rechrainne, ecclaise

0630AFM i 250

Rechru insula, Rechrea insula

0690cAdomnán 220 16b,436 93b

[in] Rechrea

0690cAdomnán 93b 436

(?) Reacrainne, epscob

0734AFM i 336


690cAdomnán 16b 222


690cAdomnán 222 16b

Rikina [Greek letters]

Cent.EA 0288
Rathlin Island
Parish in 1851
Rathlin Island
Place name ID
Place name type